Summary: Overcoming prejudice by learning to see the way God sees, to treat others the way you want to be treated, and acknowledge and accept the differences.
We are all susceptible to this problem – prejudice. We look at people with coloured glasses.
• We find it hard to relate to people who differ from us. It can be cultural, racial or simply some preferences.
• It is based on a preconceived notion. We can’t run away from it. Anyone can be affected by it.
• That’s why we need to remind ourselves - to see people the way God sees them. To see the world with the eyes of Christ.
It is not easy for us. It is not easy for Peter.
• More so for Peter and the Jewish believers, because of their generations of belief in God’s Law and their religious practices.
• They had been following God’s Law all their lives and saw the fulfilment of God’s prophesy - Jesus their Messiah has come to rescue them.
Now the Lord is telling them to share that ‘privilege’ with the rest of the world.
• It is one thing to hear what Jesus tells them – go and make disciples of all nations, but it is quite another to cross the cultural and racial divide and do it.
• In their immediate context, they are to share this ‘Saviour of theirs’ with the Gentiles, the kind who has never lived by their laws, not circumcised the ones unclean and ungodly.
But the time has come for that to start, and the Lord will start with Peter.
• This event happens about ten years after Pentecost. So you can see, for ten years they have not reach beyond their own race.
• They have traveled beyond Jerusalem, but they had not crossed the racial line.
Now is the time. There is a devout and God-fearing Gentile and his family, all ready to hear about Christ.
• But first, man needs to overcome their prejudices.
• I can empathize with Peter. I will feel the same way too.
• We all find it hard to initiate a move to connect with someone who is very different from us. They are just so unlike us.
• Put it the other way around, they are people we do not like.
In fact, we sees a little of this already happening within the church.
• Acts 9 tells us Saul after his conversion finds it hard to integrate into the church after his salvation, at first in Damascus and then in Jerusalem.
• 9:26 “When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.”
Have you ever been ostracized? All alone and just can’t get into the clique?
• Then you would understand how Paul felt at the beginning, within the body of Christ!
• Thank God, there are people like Barnabas. 9:27 says he came forward and did some explaining and tried to bridge the gap.
Prejudice happens when we have preconceived notions of people.
• And if left unchecked, it could become a deep-seated divide.
• We thank God for Barnabas. We need more ‘Barnabas’ today.
How can we overcome prejudice?
(1) GET TO SEE THE WAY GOD SEES
Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. We read things only from that perspective.
• To get the true picture, we need God’s revelation. We need to see things the way God see things. We need to see people the way God sees people.
When he was praying, Peter saw heaven opened up and something like a large sheet being let down to earth, with many unclean animals on it.
• God says, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” (10:13) Peter reply was: “Surely not, Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” (v.14)
• God said, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (v.15)
• “Yes, according to the Law, you should not eat unclean animals. But now I’ve made them clean, not according to the Law but by My grace. So these ‘unclean’ ones are made clean.”
All men can be saved today, not by the observance of the Law but by God’s grace!
• We are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all made clean in Christ. (cf. Gal 3:26-28)
And the Bible says this exchange happened 3 times! (v.16)
• God has to convince him, almost. It is difficult for Peter to accept that God cares for people whose traditions, morality, and way of life is so repulsive to him.
• The Gentiles were looked upon by the Jews with great contempt. They were even called dogs (cf. Matt 15).
It is difficult to change something that has already become a part of you.
• It is so easy to justify yourself, to tell yourself that you are doing it right, that you are better than others, that you are righteous one.